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Metamorphose(N) / Joseph Moog

Liszt / Busoni / Friedman / Moog
Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 2905   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz LisztLeopold GodowskyIgnaz FriedmanMoritz Moszkowski,   ... 
Performer:  Joseph Moog
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

METAMORPHOSE(N) Joseph Moog (pn) CLAVES 50-2905 (57: 42)

LISZT Reminiscences de Norma. GODOWSKY Java Suite: The Gardens of Buitenzorg. SAINT-SAËNS-GODOWSKY The Swan. CHOPIN-GODOWSKY Waltz in D? , “Minute.” Read more class="COMPOSER12">J. STRAUSS II-FRIEDMAN Voices of Spring. BUSONI Sonatina No. 6, “Chamber Fantasy on Carmen.” MOSZKOWSKI Paraphrase on the Venusberg Bacchanale from Tannhäuser

Having recently been impressed by Joseph Moog’s collection Divergences , featuring music by Jongen, Reger, and Scriabin, I was pleased to encounter another characteristically adventurous program from the young German pianist. This one explores the genre of the piano transcription’s potential for real re-creation, yielding a new artwork in its own right, far more than a mere adaptation of the original to a new instrumental medium. The selection of pieces focuses on two kinds of re-creative transcription: free paraphrases, in the rearranger’s own style, of selected content from complete operas (Liszt and Busoni) or a single operatic scene (Moszkowski); and recastings of short, self-standing pieces, preserving the formal framework and continuity of the original while freely altering harmony and texture (the Godowsky and Friedman transcriptions). The odd man out here is the excerpt from Godowsky’s Java Suite, an original composition with no basis in an existing work by another composer.

All are technically highly demanding, and Moog’s performances are once again absolutely splendid. Reminiscences de Norma is very special, indeed one of the best I have ever heard: prodigiously accomplished technically, ideal in temperament (compellingly individual in his plastic shaping of cadenza flourishes) and expression (strikingly in tune with the opera’s exalted spirit of hieratic paganism). His coloristic range is remarkable: vocal, choral (the earthy, sappy vibrance of Oroveso’s opening “Ite sul colle,” and fearsome éclat of the following Druids’ invocation of Norma, “Dell’ aura tua profetica”), and orchestral (the multilayered textures of Liszt’s magical B-Major introduction of Norma’s “Qual cor tradisti”). At the climactic thematic combination of the Druids’ music from the beginning and end of the opera, listen to the way Moog artfully pulls back, overriding Liszt’s injunction to give all from the beginning ( il più f ed passionato posibile ), in the service of building excitingly to a further climax. By comparison, Hamelin (Music & Arts) is looser, more casual in his characteristic lightly worn flamboyance, quite different from Moog’s fiercely exalted concentration. I’m delighted to have both.

Ignaz Friedman’s Voices of Spring was new to me. It’s a very original transcription, with Friedman’s characteristically thick textures: sonorous left-hand 10ths against manic right-hand embellishments in rhythmic diminution, with much sharply pungent added dissonance. Moog plays it with amazing clarity and an appropriately strident éclat —though inevitably a rather straighter rendition than one imagines Friedman himself would have given it, with his inimitable style of rhythmic rough-housing (if he left a recording, I’m not aware of it).

As for the Godowsky arrangements, I have to admit that his trademark dripping (or drooping) chromatic accretions and contrived imitative effects are just not my cup of tea. Saint-Saëns’s elegant swan has an unfortunate case of clogged arteries; here Moog is stricter, less improvisatory-sounding than Cherkassky (EMI/First Hand). And if, for all its added technical complexity, Godowsky’s over-upholstered amplification of Chopin’s “Minute” Waltz ends up sounding too placid and self-satisfied by half, that is no fault of Moog’s smoothly luxuriant performance. Godowsky’s original music sounds much like his transcriptions of other composers’, only without the advantage of their good tunes. Moog’s performance of The Gardens of Buitenzorg glistens delicately in strict tempo; Hamelin (CBC) is again both freer and more conventionally romantic.

The Busoni is dazzlingly articulate—reflecting a fiercer Mediterranean sunlight than the cooler, more suggestively reserved treatment of classics Michele Campanella (Fonit Cetra) and Paul Jacobs (Nonesuch/Arbiter), but Moog finds subtle coloring in the “Flower Song,” and is very effective at the end, with its weird Busoniesque dissolution of Bizet in grey impressionistic mists.

Moszkowski’s Venusberg Paraphrase was an adventurous choice, and makes a refreshing change from the ubiquitous Liszt version of the overture. It’s an ingenious tour de force of endlessly varied pianistic re-creations of a small number of motives, loosely based on the Paris version of the opera’s opening scene. Moog’s performance is superb, all glinting diamond precision and sustained tonal beauty.

The recording is rich, with vividly tangible presence. The notes mistakenly refer to Liszt’s use of Bellini’s aria “Casta diva” in the Norma Paraphrase (the writer seems to be confusing it with Norma’s “Deh! non volerli vittime,” from the final scene); they also compare Moszkowski’s arrangement of Isolde’s Liebestod with Liszt’s, seemingly under the impression that it appears in the program. All in all, a wonderful disc, very strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

Réminiscences de Norma (Bellini), S 394 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 17 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Java Suite: Gardens of Buitenzorg by Leopold Godowsky
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924-1925; USA 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Frühlingstimmen (Strauss) by Ignaz Friedman
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Waltz for Piano in D flat major [after Chopin's Op. 64 no 1] by Leopold Godowsky
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Paraphrase after Wagner's "Venusberg Bachanale" by Moritz Moszkowski
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 13 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Sonatina super Carmen, K 284 "Kammerfantasie" by Ferruccio Busoni
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Berlin, Germany 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Le Cygne for Piano [after Saint-Saëns] by Leopold Godowsky
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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